Tyron Woodley vs Colby Covington: Can Chaos Dethrone the Chosen One?

  • Like it or not, Colby Covington is the UFC Welterweight interim champion
  • A Woodley vs Covington title unification fight is currently in the works, penciled for November
  • Can “Chaos” dethrone the “Chosen One”?

The most hated man in the UFC is now the interim welterweight champion. Colby Covington defeated former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos last weekend at UFC 225, and instantly called out welterweight champ Tyron Woodley.

Woodley, in turn, welcomed the challenge with open arms. It’s been a year since the welterweight champ last defended his title, and this fight will give him the two things he desperately desires: a decent payday and the chance to finally be the good guy.

The title unification fight will probably take place at the end of the year. Let’s take an early look at the odds and breakdown the fight.

Tyron Woodley (-205) vs Colby Covington (+180)

Tyron Woodley (18-3-1) has to be the favorite against Colby Covington (14-1), no question. T-Wood has faced far tougher opponents than Covington has, and has already successfully defended his belt on three occasions. However, it would be a huge mistake to simply dismiss “Chaos” Covington.

The Stylistic Match-up

We have an interesting clash of styles here. Woodley is a cautious counter-striker, a man who picks his moments very carefully. He allows his opponents to back him up and he waits for openings to present themselves. Covington is the opposite. As we saw in his fight against RDA, he’s able to apply relentless pressure over the full five rounds, constantly moving forward and dictating the pace. By swarming his opponents, he’s able to keep them on the back foot and rob them of any momentum.

Woodley would welcome Covington to try to swarm him. He knows that if he’s able to land as Covington presses forward — as RDA was able to do a few times — the fight could be over very quickly. Unlike Dos Anjos, Woodley only needs one clean shot to lay Covington on his back.

But if Covington can avoid getting clipped, especially by Woodley’s dreaded right hand, then the interim champ could potentially outwork his way to victory. Woodley has never been forced to maintain a high tempo over the course of a full fight, and there’s a good chance he doesn’t have the gas tank to sustain Covington’s pace for five whole rounds.

Striking and Wrestling Ability

After the Maia fight, many fans were critical of Covington’s striking ability. We saw him throw slow, looping punches at Maia, barely out-striking the Jiu-Jitsu purist. But then against RDA, he proved himself to be a very competent striker. It’s not fair to say that “Chaos” is just a wrestler. However, his striking ability pales in comparison to Woodley’s. He hasn’t displayed anything even remotely close to the power, precision, or timing we’ve seen from T-Wood.

Both fighters are products of the collegiate wrestling system, and both rely heavily on their grappling ability. Woodley is an extremely dangerous fighter once he gains top control, and Covington is great at controlling fights in the clinch. When it comes to pure wrestling ability, the pair appear pretty evenly matched.

Ring Rust and Injuries

If the fight takes place at the end of the year, that will leave T-Wood with a year-and-a-half of ring rust. Couple that with the shoulder surgery he’s just had, and you’ve got yourself a few reasons to be concerned. The 36-year-old could potentially be on the decline, with his power and precision slowly waning. On the other hand, Covington has remained active and is constantly improving with each fight.

Pick: Tyron Woodley (-205)

Despite my concerns over Woodley’s age, cardio, and inactivity, I still believe he wins this fight handily. He has unbelievable power and he strikes with amazing timing and precision. Covington will learn very quickly that he cannot simply outwork Woodley by applying constant pressure. There’s a reason T-Wood’s opponents are always so hesitant to engage.

Covington will attempt to drag Woodley into deep waters and grind out a decision victory, but his approach against Maia and RDA will not work with the champ.